A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap - Part 1

Lot's of stories to tell, let's get going. And unfortunately I had to make this a two parter - too much information for one sitting.

We headed up to Cavalier on Thursday morning, dogs in tow, to spend Thanksgiving with Alycia's family. Thanksgiving dinner was a long affair and filled with delicious food for everyone. Alycia's Mom and Dad enjoy trying out new recipes and they had a couple of vegetarian, gluten free dishes for Alycia. One was a wild/brown rice casserole with mushrooms and water chestnuts, another was roasted butternut squash with cauliflower, garlic and pine nuts. Both were very different and quite tasty.

We have leftovers of both those dishes, and we'll spend the next several days consuming them. Since I'm busy eating the turkey, gravy and other meaty gluten filled items, I always feel a bit bad for Alycia, but this year, she had quite lot to choose from, the two aforementioned dishes, plus mashed taters, gluten free stuffing, and a gluten free apple pie, so nobody left hungry, Celiac or not.

Friday, the day after Thanksgiving though, was where the real fun started. Alycia's parents sit on the Holy Church Council for a church in the nearby hamlet of Hamilton, ND population 73 (here's the Wikipedia entry on Hamilton, ND for those who would accuse me of hyperbole for storytelling purposes). Her Dad had volunteered to remove a dead tree from the church parking lot the previous Sunday, and I as his helper monkey, was gonna help him do it.

First we had to mosey from Cavalier, ND, south on Highway 18 to the farm of a family friend (Farmer Lee) who lives outside Hoople, ND, population 292 (again here's the Wikipedia entry for you non believers) to pick up his two chain saws. Chain saws in tow, we headed up to Hamilton only to find that the tree had already been removed!!!! Alycia's Dad attributed this shocking discovery to the likelihood that another parishioner had overheard the tree removal plan and had simply jumped the gun and come over and removed the tree himself.

We were now all dressed up, chain saws in hand, with nothing to chain saw. This simply would not do, so we conjured up a backup plan. Tom called Farmer Lee and asked if we could take some of the trees that he had thinned from the tree breaks/shelterbelt around his fields, chop it up, cart it away and use it for firewood at our homestead in Grand Forks. For those of you city slickers who don't know, North Dakota is a very windy place, and tree breaks or shelterbelts are used around both houses/farmsteads and around crop fields to keep wind, snow drifts, weeds, and soil erosion at bay.

The tree breaks can be narrow (one tree wide) or deep (a hundred feet wide or more) and very long, usually the length of the field, hundreds of yards long. Essentially they're long, narrow forests, and every few years farmers go in and thin dead trees, cut down problem trees, and generally keep the forest healthy.

Alycia's Dad and I set to work, each with a chain saw and a huge tangle of large trees that had been removed by heavy equipment and piled up at one end of the tree break. After about an hour of frenzied mechanized fury, we had enough wood to fill up the vehicle (a lovely red Pontiac Aztec) and decided to call it a day. We drove the chain saws back to Farmer Lee's compound, returned to load up the wood in the Aztec, and proceed back home in time for Thanksgiving leftover lunch.

And after lunch we had yet another family adventure. To be continued.....

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